Inverness College UHI to deliver Graduate Apprenticeship in Early Learning and Childcare to tackle skills shortage

Inverness College UHI will pilot a new Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) in Early Learning and Childcare from September 2019.

It is the first GA in the sector to be developed in Scotland and will enable, for the first time, school leavers or people looking to change career the opportunity to follow an alternative work-based learning route into the industry, study for an undergraduate degree and gain Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) practitioner status, all within three years.

The sector is facing a skills shortage and the apprenticeship supports the Scottish Government’s commitment to employ 11,000 new childcare workers by 2020 to enable it to provide 30 hours of free childcare to eligible 2-year-olds and 3 and 4 year-olds by next year.

It also supports aspirations to raise the overall quality of early learning and childcare provision and the ambitions of staff within the sector, who want to be degree-qualified.

The pilot programme has been approved following a successful bid by the University of the Highlands and Islands to Skills Development Scotland.

The three-year GA will be delivered from Inverness College UHI and networked across University of the Highlands and Islands partners including Moray, Perth, Shetland, Lews and Argyll & Bute, allowing people to study remotely.

Graduate apprenticeships are a relatively new way to work, learn and earn, bringing together the knowledge, technical, practical and job specific skills employers are looking for.

GA programme leader Alice Mongiello said: “Increasingly we’re seeing staff within the sector seeking to upskill. This is the first step towards this, supporting the aspirations of the sector, the government and staff themselves who want a much deeper level of knowledge, understanding and professional competence. We are delighted to pilot this new programme, which has already been warmly received by early learning and childcare providers across Scotland, from both the public, private and third sector.”

Approval of the GA follows a successful bid by the University of the Highlands and Islands to Skills Development Scotland.

The pilot includes allocation for 15 apprentices, who will have the unique opportunity to develop work-based skills whilst studying for an undergraduate degree. They will attend their local University of the Highlands and Islands partner on a day-release basis and the work undertaken ‘on the job’ will contribute to their studies. They will graduate with a degree plus three years of valuable industry experience.

The GA adds to the range of other early learning and childcare qualifications offered by Inverness College UHI and the University of the Highlands and Islands including its Modern Apprenticeship in Childcare and its NC, HNC and BA (Hons) in Childhood Practice.

Inverness College UHI already offers a GA in Civil Engineering, after becoming the first university in Scotland to develop and pilot a GA four years ago. It offers a SCQF Level 8 and Level 10 qualification, allowing people to study right up to Honours Degree level.

Inverness College UHI is currently piloting a fast-track 12-week Men in Childcare course, which aims to tackle gender stereotypes and encourage more men into the profession. It is delivered in the evening, giving men already in employment the opportunity to re-train. Men who successfully complete the course will be guaranteed an interview for the HNC Childhood Practice course, which starts in August.